SIOUX CITY, Iowa -- The newly renovated Iowa State University Design West Studio was unveiled in Sioux City on July 25 at an open house for media and the Studio's neighbors.
Located on historic Fourth Street, the studio is the result of a unique partnership with the State of Iowa’s Great Places program, the Sioux City Great Places Committee, the Sioux City Chamber of Commerce, the City of Sioux City, Iowa State University’s College of Design and ISU Extension Community and Economic Development.
“Thinking back, it was less than two years ago that our community submitted our Great Places proposal that featured an exceptionally bold idea that called for a unique urban space that would provide studio, lecture, and office facilities for undergraduate and graduate design work,” said Bev Wharton, co-chair of the Sioux City Great Places Committee. “We are standing in what was an old boiler plant in a back alley that had all but been forgotten that is now Iowa State University Design West Studio.”
The building has nearly 6,000 square feet available for undergraduate and graduate students to work on design projects. According to Susan Fey, program coordinator for Design West, the new studio will offer students “on the ground education in a community that also embraces innovation, as well as restoration, its history of beautiful architecture, and its future in progressive design.”
Another goal of the facility is to eventually provide ISU Extension programming, with an Extension architect specializing in historic preservation and urban design on staff. In addition, distance education will be offered from the Sioux City location.
Nathan Kalaher, co-chair of the Sioux City Great Places Committee and designer for M+ Architecture, has spearheaded the project. While talking about the building, he stands in front of what is arguably the building’s most outstanding feature, two archways leading to a gallery visible to the alley/plaza above through glass covered manholes. “Students here at Design West will be highly creative and will be working on architecture, landscape, and planning projects that focus on the metro area. Because of this, the building had to be urban, unique and preferably older, given our community’s commitment to preservation. We wanted to provide them with a space that was not only functional, but also inspiring,” said Kalaher.
Tours of the building highlighted the building’s massive windows, 30-plus foot atrium, translucent walls, lecture space, reading room, offices, 3-foot thick quartzite walls, exposed ductwork and plumbing, and cantilever concrete staircase. According to Kalaher, Design West will be holding grand opening events for students and for the community, but wanted to give the neighbors and the media the first look. “Our neighbors have been very patient and helpful throughout the renovation of this building; we thought it was appropriate to invite them in for a sneak peak before we start showing it off to everyone else,” concluded Kalaher.
The ISU Design West Studio is an Iowa Great Places project. In addition to a $530,000 Great Places grant, the project is supported by Iowa State University Extension, the Iowa State University College of Design, the City of Sioux City and local private-public partnerships.